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Maltese report Maltese report
by Euro Reporter
2009-10-17 10:42:50
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The government’s budget

The government's budget for 2010 will be presented in Parliament on November 9, official sources said the budget will be mainly focused on reducing government expenditure and will not include any tax increases.

This is the second budget of this legislature and the second one to be presented by Finance Minister Tonio Fenech. When planning next year's budget, the government will have to keep in mind the European Commission's demand for Malta to regularise its budget deficit - which last year stood at 4.7 per cent of GDP - by the end of next year.

The government is forecasting a deficit of 3.8 per cent for this year and estimates that the deficit will be close to the three per cent EU threshold by the end of next year - at around 3.3 per cent. Earlier this month Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi officially ruled out any tax increases in the next budget and said the government's aim was to tackle the deficit by controlling expenditure. Tax cuts have also been ruled out with the Finance Minister saying that the present economic situation did not permit such fiscal measures.

Is recession over?


A ridiculous controversy

The owner of the private jet on which the Finance Minister flew to watch a football match has described the controversy as "ridiculous", saying politics and business were never discussed during the short holiday. The chairman of the Tumas Group, George Fenech did not see how the minister's position could have been compromised by accepting the free flight and match tickets in April. "... It's ridiculous. It means that if I now see him at a reception I cannot talk to him. I won't distribute any hampers at Christmas time now," an incredulous Mr Fenech said when contacted.

He insisted no political party ever gave him "red carpet treatment". "What we achieved as a company we did because we worked for it," he added. Claiming the whole affair was being pushed by "someone with a hidden agenda", Mr Fenech said he had nothing to hide. "I swear that on the trip we did not discuss politics or business. Both Joe Gasan and I made it clear that we were not to discuss either. I do not need to fly with the minister to talk to him about business. I make appointments like any other businessman does," he said.

The controversy revolves around the minister's perceived conflict of interest in flying with Mr Fenech, who is a casino operator, and the presentation of new regulations in Parliament to introduce stricter controls on gaming halls. However, Mr Fenech was unfazed by the argument insisting casinos have been strictly regulated for 11 years. He added that in January all casino operators had asked for a level playing field because the gaming halls were mushrooming and they were not regulated like casinos.
"I am not corrupting a minister by asking him to regularise a sector and ensure a level playing field. All casino operators made this request," he said, referring to the judicial protest filed in January by all casinos asking the government to regularise the gaming halls. The affair was raised during the Nationalist Party's parliamentary group last Saturday.

Flying controversies!!!


Black Monday never again

Labour leader Joseph Muscat yesterday said that much more could have been done to avoid the violent events of Black Monday, insisting those acts "should never have happened". The events of October 15, 1979 did not weaken the politicians or the institutions that suffered the attacks, he said, but the perpetrators and the politicians who in people's eyes represented them.

"When I was elected Labour leader I made a historic apology to all those who may have been hurt by the actions of those who used the Labour Party and then threw it away, leaving it stained with their misdeeds. I repeat this today, 30 years after Black Monday, because I honestly believe that all people of goodwill agree with me that these were acts that should have never happened and much more could have been done to avoid them," he said. Dr Muscat was giving a public talk at the Tumas Fenech Foundation for Education in Journalism on the theme: "What does the politician expect from journalists".

Significantly, the talk was held yesterday on the 30th anniversary of the day - which has become known as Black Monday - when Labour thugs ransacked and burnt The Times building in Valletta and then went on to attack opposition leader Eddie Fenech Adami's family at their Birkirkara home. Dr Muscat said his generation was born in the wake of those "wounds" and did not want those events to ever be repeated.
Former Labour minister and foundation member Lino Spiteri, in a brief comment on the events of Black Monday, said he was ashamed they were perpetrated under a Labour government and welcomed Dr Muscat's apology.


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